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WFH? ->TFH! Training From Home

08-05-2020 Working From Home? Yes of course. But conducting online Training From Home? Naturally! But how naturally do you do that? In this article, I share our best practices and inspire you to apply them now as well as after the COVID-19 era.

The COVID-19 challenge

The impact of COVID-19 measures on classroom training sessions is huge. We suddenly had to stop our classroom sessions or worse, cancel them. Since then we have been working from home challenged with this new reality. Some days look like another `Blursday’ but conduction training online proof inspired me to think ahead and excel in this new online experience.

We CoThinkers thrive on the interaction with the participants. And participants enjoy our energy and passion and develop their problem-solving skills in a safe, interactive face-to-face environment. But….? I hear you think, that was before COVID-19. What about now?

In the last weeks we managed to restart and reschedule our trainings. We even created completely new online sessions. We adapted to the new standard: worldwide - online. And it got even better: the big showstopper, - online -, became an enabler to work difficulties like around planning and traveling abroad. It gave a positive twist to our planning of training and facilitations.

Figure 1, Bart Smit conducting online training from the CoThink Training facility

So how did we do this?

We had to ReThink our situation. Goals remained the same, but context shifted. By doing, testing and improving we came up with this online training session approach:
  • Each participant is visible and audible (webcam and sound throughout the session). Just like in the classroom
  • Each training session lasts 3 to 4 hours max
  • A bio-break every hour
  • We aim for 6-8 participants per trainer
  • Participants do practical exercises in small groups

This is work under construction. You’re doing your daily work but still very different! Every training session delivers us new feedback and helps us to improve. Fortunately, that interaction remained as before...

Since everyone is always visible, reading non-verbal communication becomes a lot easier. And no one likes to stare at a screen the whole day, so we chose for the 3-4 hour maximum.

This is the tooling that helps us

We always use the flipchart for visualisations during training. PowerPoint serves more as a reference and background information. So as soon as it helps to clarify the situation, we grab the marker and the flipchart. Much easier than via MS Excel. On the other hand, you don’t want to force your old habits into the new situation just because it worked for you in the classroom.                                                                                                                                                            Figure 2, Ron Vonk conduction online training from home.

So, rethinking why and what you want to share led us to prepare examples in Excel and PowerPoint. One key takeaway is that you must fully script your training and prepare the tooling. From that principle we use a mix of tools: GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Excel and Mentimeter. These are the core ingredients along with our script to make every session a success.

But you know what they say about the pudding? It is in the eating. Therefore, some feedback from an online training conducted by colleague Ron Vonk for a customer in the US.

As trainers we feel empowered by the feedback to continue in this direction. Although we can't wait to give classroom training again, we do not hesitate to give the same training online. We don’t know when the COVID-19 measures will be lifted but, we are confident about the new normal. We are ready to continue online and will expand our training propositions so you can keep developing wherever you are.

Stay safe and take care,

Bart Smit, CoThink Trainer & Facilitator

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